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AOL updates its blog service

New features let members add to their Web logs via instant message or text message. Diarists can also ask to receive alerts whenever readers add comments to their journals.

America Online on Tuesday announced updates to its AOL Journals service, which allows customers to create online diaries.

The company said it has expanded character limits for journal entries, creating greater space for diarists to share information. A rich-text editor has also been added, to let customers edit journals using HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and insert links to images.

In addition, members will be able to add to their journals by sending instant messages or text messages from a mobile phone.

Journal readers also can now get alerts via e-mail or text message whenever their favorite journals are updated. Journal owners also can set an alert to notify them each time others add comments to their diary.

Online journals, more widely known as blogs, have become popular in recent years by allowing people to share views, photos and other information. Tech companies also have tapped into the trend, in areas such as software development.

AOL launched its journal service last year. It's designed to let members create private journals with restricted access to a select set of people. AOL said members have created over 220,000 journals since last summer.

The new update will be available free to customers of AOL and of AOL for Broadband service, the company said.